Using your netbook safely at home
Having the opportunity to take the netbook home gives our students great opportunities in terms of extending their learning outside of the classroom. Using these netbooks they can for example, in seconds, access entire libraries of information, be connected to people from all across the world and create amazing videos.
Alongside these opportunities however, it is important that we recognise and be prepared for the potential risks in allowing children such individual online access.
At school there are powerful firewalls to ensure internet safety for the students but these only operate within school. You must ensure there are adequate firewalls and controls in place at home to prevent your child accessing illegal or unsuitable internet sites. If you are unsure about your home firewalls contact us at school and we will advise you on the matter.
Our experience in school tells us that no matter how good firewalls are some students are sufficiently skilled to out-manoeuvre them. We suggest, therefore, that when your child is using the netbook at home they use it in a ‘public’ space where you can keep an eye on the sites they are using.
To be really safe you should establish the expectation that you will regularly check the content of your child’s netbook. Remember, the netbook is a device for teaching and learning so your child should have no objection to you checking the materials on them. Indeed it will be a great opportunity for you to see the work they are doing at school and discuss it with them.
If you have any concerns at all about your child’s use of the netbook please ask for advice and guidance. Phone, email or come into school. Ultimately, if you are not happy with the risks involved in using the netbook at home you can arrange with the school that your child does not bring the netbook home.
Email us: email@example.com
Being Safe Online
To parents who don’t regularly use it, the online world can be difficult to fully understand. This is, of course, not only accessible through the school netbook but also through any other devices your child may have access to including their games consoles and mobile telephones. As mentioned earlier, the school netbook is not provided for students to play games or speak to their friends on; its purpose is to support and develop their learning and its use will need careful monitoring at home.
The following pages look at the wider issues of helping your child stay safe online. Probably the single most important piece of advice we could give is to be as involved as possible with your child’s online activity. If you don’t understand what they are doing, ask them to explain it.
Set rules and boundaries for the online or virtual world just as you would in the real world and put in place ways that you can check that these are being followed.
Social Networking Sites
Young people now often spend more time in front of a computer or mobile phone than they do a TV. Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have become a part of everyday life for many of us. This can be a great way to keep in contact with friends, family and colleagues but these sites do actively encourage the sharing of personal information including photos and video and there are obvious risks associated with them.
In order to keep our young people safe when using these sites there is a need to protect them from:
- Exposure to strangers using fake profiles
- Unsolicited chat or messages
- Inappropriate or unpleasant messages (cyber-bullying)
- Exposure to unsavoury information and images
- Inappropriate sharing of personal information
In school students are taught what they can and should do in these situations but children can often feel overly protected online, given that they are often physically in a safe place (such as a bedroom at home) and often push boundaries in a way that in the real world they would never even consider.
It should be noted that no child under 13 should have a ‘Facebook’ profile (and yet research shows 34% of 9-12 year olds have an account) one of the first things these children will have done is to lie about their age!
- Make sure they know the dangers of communicating with people they don't know online.
- Help your child to understand what information should remain private.
- Join the social network yourself, so you can understand the risks better. Get them to add you as a friend. If they are posting information they do not want you to see they probably should not be posting it!
- Check out who they are talking to and check pictures being posted. Often students will add a 'friend' or a 'friend' of a 'friend' with no idea of who they really are!
- Make sure that you apply privacy settings to restrict certain information to people who are not added as friends.
- Familiarise yourself with the ways that you can get help from that social network.
Remember that you can block people from communicating with you via social network websites; this should be the first course of action for you or your child if you are at all concerned.
Gaming is hugely popular with many young people and most games are now at least partly online. Using games consoles, such as the PlayStation and Xbox, and PCs students can link up through the internet with other players around the world. Gamers can also spend vast amounts of time playing them.
This can lead to the same issues as social networks as your child could be subjected to unsolicited, inappropriate or unpleasant dialogue and material.
- Always make sure your child is playing appropriate games for their age. Check the rating on the box if you are unsure.
- Get them to play the game in a communal room.
- Be careful about how much time they spend on games. They are a fantastic way to relax but can quickly become time consuming.
- Be aware of the online nature of games and make sure they know who they are talking to.
- Where possible, set parental controls or family settings.
Most young people now have mobile phones helpfully allowing them to remain in contact with their friends and families. Most mobiles now however, also allow access to the Internet, social networks and location based applications including the capacity to share and track people’s locations.
Location based applications can be extremely dangerous if used in a reckless way. They open up the opportunity for anyone to be aware of your child’s location at any time and be linked to the use of social networking sites, which have the capacity to show current location and who you are with to all who have been added as friends, and in some cases people who have not!
Phones also provide unsupervised access to the Internet, and in most cases a digital camera, making the viewing and sending of inappropriate material easy and instant. Young people need to understand that once a digital image has been taken and sent on or posted there is no way to regain control of it!
Did you know…
Most network providers like O2 and Orange now provide services for Parents/Carers to restrict the information that is sent and, in some cases, location based services altogether. This can help in restricting material which may be rated as 18+ as well.
Helpful Guides for Everyone
The CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency) ThinkUKnow site is probably the best place for e-safety information online. It has a wealth of information for parents and students.
There is also a good overview video covering a lot of what you need to know. Click here to see the video
If you have any concerns about your child’s use of the netbook or any other online or digital activity there is always someone in school who can help.
If you have any wider concerns about behaviour online or think that someone has acted illegally towards a child you should call 999 or make a report to the police at:
If you wish to report criminal content online you can do so at the Internet Watch Foundation:
To report a hate crime i.e. something that incites hate on the grounds of race, disability or sexuality: